“Creating Healthy Communities” is our mission in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS), and a continual focus on public health practice goes a long way toward helping us to accomplish it. Here are just a few of the initiatives with which we are involved related to practice.

Asbury Heights Positive Approach to Care

Positive Approach to Care (PAC) Program of Culture Change at Asbury Heights Senior Living Community
One of the greatest challenges faced by all long-term care staff is taking well accepted concepts and values and applying them in real life situations as they struggle to provide for the physical and emotional needs of residents with physical and cognitive deficits caused by dementia and other changes in life-long abilities. The primary goal for Asbury Heights, with the integration of Teepa Snow's Positive Approach to Care (PAC) program, is to become a truly resident-focused and person-driven community, by providing staff and managers with a set of skills to enable them to engage with each other, family members, and residents to optimize physical and cognitive functioning, preserve participation in personal care, and support psychosocial and emotional well-being in a person-centered manner. The formal goal is to attain a PAC Dementia Competent Community designation from Teepa Snow, by the end of Year 2.

The objectives of the goal were to, first, identify and establish a core group of hand-selected PAC staff leaders as PAC Level 1 and Coaches in 1-day class with follow-up coaching to become PAC staff leadership for the community. The PAC staff leaders‘ role is to help with the initial uptake, and the planning of the roll out of the program. This was completed in the spring of 2013. Second, senior supervisors, managers and administration were trained on PAC Level 1 and Coach skills to begin to support a) PAC staff leaders, b) organizational change and coaching, and c) additional training roll out while the PAC staff leaders learned and integrated PAC Level 2 skills into their practices. This was completed in August of 2013. To date, more than 80 staff members have been trained and are actively using Level 1, Level 2, and PAC Coaching skills during their daily practices in their campus neighborhoods. Currently, the PAC staff leaders working in conjunction with senior supervisors, managers, and administration are actively rolling out the Level 1 PAC training throughout three locations on campus, while PAC staff leaders and selected managers are mastering Level 2, Level 3 PAC skills--even nine staff members are pursuing Level 4 PAC skills.

Asbury Heights has teamed up with the Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health and BCHS faculty member Beth Nolan to conduct a scientific program evaluation of the PAC program, across three Asbury neighborhoods, as compared to three wait-list, comparison neighborhoods. This program evaluation will inform further plans to roll out culture change using this very person-driven approach to staff training, staff guidance, care planning, and care delivery.

Helping Hospitals

BCHS faculty members Stephen Albert, Jessica Burke, Donna Almario Doebler, Beth Nolan, and Edmund Ricci, in partnership with the Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP), are working with hospitals to help them comply with the requirements of community health under the new federal tax laws and make a difference in the health status of their service populations. A two-part webinar training series is now available through the federally funded Pennsylvania Public Health Training Center, a CPHP program. Part I reviews the federal community benefit requirements, introduces the field of public health, and explores the assessment of community needs and preferences. Part II provides recommendations for the identification, implementation, and evaluation of effective community-based interventions.

In addition, Albert, Burke, and Doebler have partnered with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to conduct community health needs assessments for each of UPMC’s 13 licensed regional hospitals. Recent changes to the IRS requirements for not-for-profit hospitals to maintain their tax exempt status include assessing and prioritizing community health needs, engaging the community, and implementing and evaluating community benefit programs. These new requirements provide a unique opportunity for schools of public health and nonprofit hospitals to collaborate.

International Health Training

Ronald Stall and a group of international scholars affiliated with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research presented grant application ideas at the amfAR offices in New York in April. The applications were well received, and if they are funded, the scholars will begin their research projects in their home countries of China, Lebanon, South Africa, and Vietnam.